Kaieteur News – The richest and most absorbing philosophy book – “Being and Time” – that has been written was done in 1928 by a German philosopher, Martin Heidegger, who had a relationship with the Nazi government even if it was distant as some of his admirers claim up to this day.
It remains incredible when you think of how brilliant this book is thus the author being brilliant too that he could have been associated with Nazi officials. We will never know why people do the things they do. Heidegger was no young person like Mahadai Das when at 22 years she began her flirtation with the Burnham dictatorship.
Heidegger was 40 when he wrote the most profound philosophical treatise in intellectual history therefore he should have known better. But was there something he saw in the Nazis’ rise to power that was always in his mind? Heidegger was a huge admirer of Nietzsche. Nietzsche believed that human society was deeply flawed but still could be saved by a special person he called the Übermensch in his philosophical work, “Thus Spoke Zarathustra.”
In his underdeveloped political life, he thought Nazi Germany may have been the coming of a new world. I was at UG and had refused to do National Service (NS) when Mahadai Das had become the advertising face of NS. I was around in those days so I knew how Guyanese people felt about compulsory NS.
It is misleading to say that Indians were the only community that hated NS. The society in general did, especially the middle class folks who at the time felt Burnham had become a dictator and should be removed. There is no space in this column to expand on NS. I have done thousands and thousands of columns over a 32-year period and have offered my analysis of it which I may likely do once more. This column is about the naivety of young minds in politics. Unfortunately, the young, disenchanted souls in the AFC who are leaving in droves survived; Mahadai Das didn’t.
I didn’t have any admiration for Das at the time when she was the face of NS. The weakness of humans is that we tend to think that all minds are alike and every human must understand how we understand things in general. I resented what Das was doing but I was a political animal, Das was not even, though we were about the same age.
I looked at NS and Burnham through political lenses. Das was not interested in politics. Her world was literature, poetry and Indian culture. She became a protégé of a famous Guyanese woman, Rajkumari Singh, a deep devotee to Indian culture. One can say then, that she saw Burnham through the eyes of her hero – Singh.
Isn’t that the way young people operate in politics over centuries? People want to belong and they see leaders as the route through which they can become something and through which they can belong. I have seen this in vivid display when I was a 16-year-old youth knocking around the PPP. I have seen this in all the young men who hung around the WPA and admired Walter Rodney and Rupert Roopnaraine. I have seen this in glowing ways with the young Turks in the AFC who saw Khemraj Ramjattan and Raphael Trotman together as being the Ubermensch.
As soon as the AFC got into power, instant degeneracy reared its fetid head. I had endless conversations, night and day with five of these young Turks. Four were my students at UG and at the time I taught them, I doubt they would have seen themselves in the leadership structure of a party in government – Marlon Williams, Joel Edmond, Trevor Williams and Leonard Craig. The other was someone I knew moons before the AFC was born – Michael Carrington.
All five were decent young men who believe that they could play a role in shaping a better Guyana. Their party was in power. They had now come of age. They had something to belong to. But the top of the AFC’s pyramid was far more rotten than its counterpart in the PPP and PNC. Endless conversations with them brought acknowledgement but they stuck with their party the way Das stuck with Burnham.
Das found out that Burnham wasn’t the Übermensch but the Anti-Christ. In the end he was indirectly responsible for her untimely death. The five young Turks in the AFC found out that Trotman and Ramjattan weren’t the Übermensch but the birth of nothingness. They were luckier than Das. They are still alive.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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